South Carolina: Raymond Felton
Only a handful of North Carolina players weren’t critical of the regime in place before Roy Williams retuned in 2003 to rescue the UNC program from what it had quickly become.
Among the Tar Heels that didn’t utter a negative peep was Raymond Felton. It just wasn’t how he operated, and he also may have had a slightly different experience than some of his teammates prior to Williams’ arrival. But it was under Williams that Felton’s game grew as he developed into a player that would help the Tar Heels win a national title and spend more than a decade in the NBA.
So, after the Tar Heels defeated Illinois to win the 2005 national championship, Felton’s affection for Williams poured out.
“He is the greatest coach,” Felton said. “If he retired tomorrow, I would vote for him for the Hall of Fame. He told us he would bring us a championship and we did it as a team.”
Williams hasn’t retired yet and long ago got into the Hall of Fame. One of the reasons he’s there is because he’s had players such as Felton, who was recruited from tiny Latta, SC, to UNC by Matt Doherty the year after the Heels went 8-20.
Over the next three years, Felton posted some impressive numbers: He averaged 12.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 1.9 steals per game over his 101 career outings as a Tar Heel. He shot 37.5 percent from 3-point range, including 44 percent as junior (8th highest in school history).
Felton, who left UNC after his junior season, finished his career with 1,260 points, fourth all-time at UNC with 698 assists - most assists through first three years of a career – while handing out at least 10 assists in a game 18 games. He registered the ninth highest steals mark in a season at UNC wity 72and is sixth all-time at UNC with 191 steals.
Among his honors: Third-team All-America 2005; First-team All-ACC 2005; two-time third-team All-ACC; All-ACC Rookie team 2003; Won Bob Cousy Award 2005; and he was on the 2005 NCAA All-Tournament team. Felton’s jersey No. 2 is honored in the Dean Dome rafters.
“He's probably the closest thing that I've had to an indispensable player in 17 years as a head coach,” Williams said the day before the NCAA title game in 2005. “I would hate to think where we would be without Raymond.”
The 6-foot-1 Felton was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Bobcats, where he played through 2010. He’s also been with six other teams, including his current team, the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s played 14 seasons in the NBA.
Felton was on the All-Rookie team in 2006. He’s played in 971 NBA games averaging 11.2 points and 5.2 assists per contest. He’s scored 10,853 points, handed out 5,096 assists, grabbed 2,867 rebounds, registered 1,144 steals, blocked 207 shots and converted 925 shots from 3-point range.
Furthermore, Felton has played in 44 playoff games averaging 9.8 points and 3.3 assists per contest.